Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections

Праваабарончы цэнтр «Вясна» беларускі хельсінкскі камітэт


Observer faces ban on monitoring signature verification in Salihorsk

Leanid Markhotka, leader of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee’s Salihorsk office
Leanid Markhotka, leader of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee’s Salihorsk office

Leanid Markhotka, a representative of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, was unable to attend the procedure of verifying signatures submitted for the nomination of presidential contenders to the Salihorsk district election commission. Instead, the independent observer was invited to the final meeting of the election commission, which approved the decision taken earlier.

“The whole procedure took about twenty minutes and was reduced to the announcement of the final protocols, which were prepared in advance by separate members of the commission,” says Leanid Markhotka.

The district election commission scrutinized signature gathered by five potential candidates. The record figure of 13,037 signatures was gathered for Aliaksandr Lukashenka. Mikalai Ulakhovich submitted over 3,037 valid signatures.

The number of signatures collected over the latter presidential contender causes serious doubt, says the human rights defender.

“We can trust the huge number of signatures collected for Aliaksandr Lukashenka, because we have reported numerous instances of the use of administrative coercion for this purpose. We have not seen any activities of Haidukevich’s team, but we heard about the facts of collecting signatures door-to-door. Meanwhile, we have not noticed any activities by Ataman Ulakhovich, but the election commission voiced a figure of three thousand valid signatures in his support,” says Mr. Markhotka.

As it eventually turned out, election official have never used the services of a graphologist.

“They reportedly phoned people, but this method is not always possible to accurately identify a person. In addition, you can simply fail to reach a person by phone. It turned out that the commission members did a handwriting test themselves, but among them there are no experts in this field,” says Leanid Markhotka.

The human rights activist concludes that there was no true signature verification. Mr. Markhotko admits that could be several phone calls and in order to simulate work a few signatures were found invalid. One of the main reasons for such a critical position is the secrecy of the procedure, says the observer.

"Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections"